J’aime les Macarons, Strowan, Christchurch

This quaint little macaron boutique (7F Normans Street, Strowan, Ph: 03-355 0597) is aptly named “I love Macarons”. And they do! Twice a year, a collection of new flavours is lovingly released with some fanfare, a la Pierre Herme, the master of macarons himself. The store sells only macarons (okay, there are some teas, but it’s really a very small cherry on the side).

Macarons are still a relatively new immigrant to the NZ foodie scene, and J’aime les Macarons is one of the forebearers of this trend. I remember them from a small stand at the Riccarton House farmers market (where they still make a weekly appearance) and read with delight at the opening of their store in Strowan in November 2009. The lady in the store tells me that they will be opening a store in Ponsonby, Auckland in the new year.

I have had my share of maca-wrongs, and I still haven’t turned out a perfect batch. When I confessed this to the super-friendly store lady, she mentioned that the owner Amanda took 6 months to perfect her recipe. I feel better. Just.

The Summer 2011/12 collection includes some amazing flavours. I had a difficult time selecting my half dozen. In the end, I picked Salted Butter Caramel, White Chocolate, Basil & Lime, Raspberry, Rose & Lychee, Coffee and Passionfruit. JlM’s macarons are predominantly filled with smooth chocolate ganache, white, milk or dark variations.

My favourite has to be the Salted Butter Caramel, – it has a great nutty flavour, the salt brings out the mellow earthiness of the caramel. The Raspberry, Rose & Lychee harks back to Pierre Herme’s masterpiece Ispahan. The passionfruit uses freeze-dried passionfruit, full of the lively, sweet, tangy aroma. The Basil & Lime was a curious one, – I couldn’t taste the basil, just an almondy, slightly limey taste. It was nice, but I wondered what a stronger aroma of basil would bring to the pairing.

I really liked these macarons, they are not too sweet, and the shell is crisp, not crumbly like some. For $2.50 a macaron (if you get 6 or a dozen, they come in a pretty box), they are good value.

Visit their store in Strowan, or check their website for the handful of cafes around NZ who stock their macarons. They will also deliver nationwide.

Opening hours:
Tues – Fri: 10am – 5pm
Sat: 10am – 2pm

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